David J Rodger’s globally selling Murder Mystery game, At Sharky Point, got a public airing this month at the Brigstow Lounge
This was great fun. I normally run this murder mystery as a dinner party game for friends, or friends of friends, at someone’s house or other. I’ve done it a few times now and it is always a huge success. This time I thought I would make it more of a social event, so organised the game through Natasha who owns the Brigstow Lounge on Bristol’s historic harbour. Six peoples, most of them folks I’ve only recently met and absolute strangers to each other, gathered at 6.30pm, half an hour before the advertised start time. This was to give the players time to read through their player packs – a narrative broken down into time segments that tells each player where their character was, at certain moments, between the hour of 9pm and 10pm – which is when the murder of Dr Black took place.
More importantly, the player packs tells a player if they are the murderer (or one of the murderers!) – as well as documenting who they saw, where, and when, during this critical hour.
The lounge bar was quiet but just before 7pm people started to arrive, ordering drinks and settling down to observe. The players were understandably apprehensive. Pre-game nerves. There is often a sense of being involved in an examination or being under scrutiny when you engage with a murder mystery like this. If you’re hosting such a murder mystery, then take this into account and go with it.
The game begins with the host (but this can be the Special Agent in Charge) reading the introduction which explains how the body of Dr Black was discovered around 10pm, the circumstances and condition of the body, and the state in which some player characters have been found. They have less than an hour to solve the crime.
The questioning then begins.
Having a time limit is really vital as it maintains a pressure and keeps the game from devolving into lots of freestyle waffle.
Naturally, at the beginning, the questions were wooden and a little slow to form, and player responses were stilted and uncertain. But within a few minutes, as players got used to the fact they had all the information they needed at their fingertips – they do not have to LEARN the contents of the player packs but can simply PAUSE and look through them – the pace really began to pick up. I’ve seen this happen every time. Then, as players settle into the role of their character, they begin to take umbrage at the accusations or even start to weave lies with confidence. It’s rather wonderful to observe.
Lots of laughs from the audience who were delighted to be able to sit back with a drink, relax, and have a mystery unfolding before them.
As the time limit expired, I had each player character stand up and make final accusations or declarations of innocence, and then gave the audience a chance to vote for who they believed the guilty character(s) was. This was brilliant fun and provided a lot of laughs and interaction with the audience shouting their views across the lounge.
At the end, the player(s) with the most votes against them, were left standing and declared to be found GUILTY.
Then each player was given the chance to stand and tell their version of what REALLY happened. The truth spills out to much ooos and ahhhs from audience members. Really good to observe.
The Pre-Game Prep
30 minutes of furious reading…
The player characters
The Audience Observe
The Game is Afoot
That’s a Wrap
Previous Happy Customers
I’ve always been a fan of mystery games and books, I own the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes and read it rather often, but before I played this I never had the opportunity to participate in a real Murder Mystery Party, so when I got invited I was quite the happy person! Aside of being ever so slightly, okay maybe more then slightly, nervous about the whole idea it was easily one of the funnest parties I have ever been to! Especially once things really got rolling and the accusations started flying! Practice your short hand people cause you gotta write rather quickly when everyone is at each others throats! The player packet is detailed and lines everything out wonderfully with lots of twists and surprises in there that caught me by such surprise my jaw must have dropped a few times. I loved playing and hope to play again and again! Definitely one to add to the game shelf, or bookshelf as it were. Thanks so much for writing and making this available for us Mr. Rodger! I look forward to any more you do in the future!
– Andrew Corrieri, Arizona – US
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MURDER AT SHARKY POINT: Available to buy as download or spiral bound hardcopy